Chávez's gov't accepted the Icsid as court in 2001
After several years of frequent threats, the Venezuelan government formally requested its withdrawal from the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States which set up the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (Icsid).
The Foreign Ministry remarked this week in a statement that "the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela 1999 renders null and void, in spirit and in letter, the provisions of the Convention."
However, the bilateral investment promotion and protection treaty entered into by Venezuela and France under President Hugo Chávez's administration in July 2001, which entered into force in March 2004, provides that the Icsid is the arbitration court in case of investment disputes.
This agreement was made and signed in Caracas by the then Minister of Production and Trade, Luisa Romero Bermúdez, and Francois Huwart, the French Minister of State for Foreign Trade. It was later passed by Venezuela's National Assembly (AN) on July 15, 2003, with Francisco Ameliach as the Congress Speaker.
Some months later, on November 3, 2003, President Hugo Chávez, the then Executive Vice President José Vicente Rangel, and Foreign Minister Roy Chaderton countersigned the investment protection agreement with France.
The agreement provided that in the event of any dispute that can not be resolved within six months, it will be subject, at the request of the national or the company concerned, to the jurisdiction of the State where the investment has been made or to the Icsid arbitration, established in Washington in March 1965."
The option of choosing either jurisdiction "is the choice of the national or the company concerned" and "when arbitration is chosen, this will be a final decision," represented the agreement signed by Venezuela.
The bilateral agreement between France and Venezuela was published in the Official Gazette in March 2004, and is valid for 15 years.
Service of the notice to the World Bank
Meanwhile, the World Bank announced on Thursday that it received on January 24 a written notice of denunciation of the Icsid convention from Venezuela.
"In accordance with Article 71 of the Icsid Convention, the denunciation will take effect six months after the receipt of Venezuela's notice, i.e., on July 25, 2012," informed the World Bank's center.
"In its capacity as the depository of the Icsid Convention, and as required by Article 75 of the Icsid Convention, the World Bank has notified all Icsid signatory States of the República Bolivariana de Venezuela's denunciation of the Icsid Convention," it added.
Translated by Gerardo Cárdenas
José Vicente Rangel clearly said: "We are not conducting negotiations threatened with a gun in the head." He warned behind closed doors in the midst of the social upheaval occurred during the oil strike in 2002 and 2003. Dissenting Timoteo Zambrano answered back that no other option was available: "The thing is that otherwise, you do not negotiate."